EA Chicago to close

EA Chicago to close
Michael French

By Michael French

November 6th 2007 at 6:41PM

Studio to be closed 'effective immediately' just a year after opening

The fall out from EA's corporate restructuring continues, as the publisher confirms its Chicago studio is being closed.

EA Chicago had worked on a number of key technology-driven titles for the publisher, including new Fight Night and Def Jam games. The team was, until today, working on a new Marvel fighting title.

The studio was officially opened just over a year ago and employs some 150 staff who are being offered places at other EA studios.

Last week, EA announced it was to close its Chertsey, UK base and relocate the facility's workforce to its newer Guildford office.

The moves are part of a restructuring that is seeing the business transformed into four distinct labels, as announced back in June.

According to a leaked memo reproduced over at Kotaku it had originally planned to confirm the Chicago closure at the same time as that of Chertsey, but this was postponed out of respect for an employee that had recently passed away.

In the memo EA Games label president Frank Gibeau explained that the Chicago team "hasn't been able to meet the standard" expected for "product quality, ship dates and profitability".

He added: "This is a difficult decision but we are convinced it's the right thing to do for the future of the Games Label and EA.

"Within the EA Games Label, we are committed to running each franchise and facility as a city/state, teams with unique creative identities as well as responsibility for product quality, ship dates and profitability. We recognize that games require large investments and extended development cycles. We're willing to take risks, make long-term investments, and to support teams and individuals between launches. But each team is responsible for staying on a reasonable path to profitability. Sticking to that strategy is what gives us the financial resources and flexibility to take risks on new projects.

"Unfortunately, EA Chicago hasn't been able to meet that standard. The location has grown dramatically in the past three years while revenue from the games developed there has not. The number of employees has grown from 49 in 2004 to 146 people currently in the new facility in downtown Chicago. As it stands, EA Chicago has no expectation of hitting our profitability targets until FY2011 or later."

"Closing EA Chicago is the toughest decision I've made in my career - one that in no way reflects on the talent and dedication of the people who work there. I've enjoyed their games and consider GM Kudo Tsunoda to be one of the best creative minds in our industry. The people impacted by this decision will be treated fairly - we're offering relocation opportunities to many and there will be outplacement assistance and severance for all eligible employees."